Trading stocks is a tedious, mass-number-crunching game. Why not make computers do it for you?
Because they will fuck it up.
On May 6, 2010, the Dow dropped about 1,000 points in minutes, which is usually about the kind of rate that kicks off something like the Great Depression. Stockbrokers barely had enough time to get their office windows open before the word spread that it was a false alarm. The cause? Robots.
"Mr. Raymond? It turns out it was just a computer glitch... oh."
Someone realized that human traders, no matter how sheeplike or pessimistic, couldn't have freaked out fast enough to drive the Dow down 1000 points in 10 minutes. Computers are just designed to do everything faster and more efficiently, including stock panics.
Stock trading algorithms, or "algos," as financial people fondly call them are responsible for 70 percent of trades today, which means that most of the stock market is literally just computers making deals with each other.
"Mr. Vaio? You wanted no cream, right?"